Waiting for the birth of our 3rd baby

I have 3 weeks to go until my due date but I’m already 1 1/2cm dilated and 80% effaced. I was induced with our last 2. First time due to toximia. 2nd time because I was already 3 cm dilated and I can’t feel contractions. This time I’m going to wait and see what happens. I’m very excited to feel how a real birth process starts. I delivered the last 2 naturally and I’m going to do the same with this baby. My body is just weird because during labor, I can’t feel contractions even when I’ve been induced with pitocin. I can somehow block the feeling and I won’t feel anything until the head comes out. Needless to say it makes delivering naturally easy. Now I’m excited to wait and see how labor will go and feel with this baby.

I’m back

It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted on my blog. A lot has happened since last time. I’m pregnant with our 3rd child who is due to be born very soon. It’s another boy for us and we are very excited. Our 3 1/2 year old daughter is waiting to take care of her baby brother and so is our soon to be 9-year old son. There are so many things that we still want to get done before the baby arrives including celebrating our son’s 9th Birthday a few weeks early. He wanted to have a slumber party so that’s what we are doing for him. Last year we did the same thing but this year we are doing it on a smaller scale. We had 20 kids spend the night last year which was fun but very crazy. This year the slumber party will be on a smaller scale with 5 children only. We are looking forward to it.

The last 2 children I’ve had on week 37 so I’m getting prepared with this baby as well. I was induced both times so I’m hoping that this time I get to experience going into labor naturally. Even though I was induced, I used no pain medication even when I was given pitocin. I wanted to experience natural deliveries and that’s what I got. I’m looking forward to this delivery as well.

I’ve also been very busy getting my jewelry business Reija Eden Jewelry off the ground. I hand make jewelry by using gold vermeil, sterling silver, gemstones and freshwater pearls. Also lately I’ve added some hand dyed silk necklaces into my collection. Sign-up for my Reija Eden Jewelry newsletter to get a discount coupon for 5% off your first order. All jewelry is gift boxed and shipped FREE within the USA.

My weaning journey with our 3-year old daughter

I have been so busy with everything lately that I haven’t had a chance to update the blog for a while. I just thought to write a little story about how the weaning process went with our daughter around her 3rd birthday. A user’s comment reminded me to post this story since I had posted about breastfeeding her prior.

When our daughter’s 3rd birthday was approaching, I started to feel like I was done with the whole breastfeeding process. It sounds horrible to say that but I just felt emotionally and physically done. Since I was starting to resent some of the breastfeeding moments, I realized that it was time to wean. I know it was going to take a lot of patience and time so I wasn’t stressing over it.

I started off by telling her that she was a big girl now and that nursing is for babies only. Babies that can’t yet eat real foods, need mommy’s milk and now that she was a big girl she didn’t need mommy’s milk anymore. I would remind her of that at every nursing. Not pushing the issue but just gently reminding her. Then I told her that it was starting to hurt me because my body wasn’t producing much milk anymore since she was not a baby anymore. I told her that we would count to 10 while she nursed and that would be it. I was suprised that she understood the whole concept and would always stop at the count of ten with no protest. Slowly over the course of couple of weeks, I would count to 8 then 6 and so on. Finally we were done with the counting part. I also avoided the situations/places that reminded her of nursing such as her favorite place on the couch etc. I made sure I was on my feet most of the day. She kind of forgot about breastfeeding because I kept myself up and her busy.

Nap times were the hardest. She had relied on nursing to go to sleep for her naps so I started to drive her around during her nap time. It took some time and effort but it worked. At night time she would fall asleep cuddling with me instead of nursing which was great. Right before she turned 3, I bought her a special big girl gift for  celebrating the fact that she growing up and not needing nursing anymore. It was a special doll and it made her feel like a big girl. I also baked her a cake and we celebrated her growing up. Then her birthday was shortly after that.

I was so surprised that the weaning process was relatively easy and she never cried about it. I would find other ways to sooth her and most of the time it was her cuddling with me and falling asleep with me. I  felt sad but also relieved when she was done nursing. Now that months have passed after that, we sometimes talk about it and she laughs about it. We talk about her nursing her baby once she is a grown up. I thought that she would never wean since she relied on nursing so heavily but I guess she was ready to wean, she just needed some help in the process. I know many women nurse past 3 years of age, personally that is my limit though. I can’t go past 3 years of age. I know every mother is different. It’s just how I feel. I’m now pregnant with baby number 3 and I’m interested in seeing how breastfeeding will go with this one. It will be a whole another journey and I’m excited to go through it once again.

On a quest for new shoes for our daughter

I like to avoid buying shoes for our daughter because it’s usually a hassle because our toddler doesn’t want to try on shoes and it’s a pain trying to find the correct size. Children grow out of shoes so fast that it’s hard to keep up. Luckily I found Pediped children’s shoes and I love them! Our daughter loves them too. They are so comfortable and they also come with extra insoles for room for growth. They are having a promotion for some of their shoes now that also benefit the MakeAWish foundation. It makes me feel even better that the shoes we love also benefit MakeAWish. If you are looking for the best quality shoes and the best customer service possible, I highly recommend Pediped shoes. I used the infant shoes when our daughter was a baby and now that she is a toddler I’ve used the Flex-line. Finally there are good quality shoes on the market that are also healthy for the growing feet. 

Time to act now to protect the small toy manufacturers in USA

There is a legislation being considered right now that would force all small toy manufacturers as well as European manufacturers to stop doing business in the USA due to new proposed safety standards. Europe has had higher toy safety standards in place for years and they haven’t had safety problems like we have had here with the toys being manufactured by Mattel and Fisher-Price. 

Please find out more information regarding this legislation here:

Handmade Toy Alliance

 

Here is a copy of a letter I sent to CPSIA:

Like many people, I was deeply concerned by the dangerous and poisonous toys that large Chinese toy manufacturers have been selling to our nations families. And, I was very pleased that Congress acted quickly to protect America’s children by enacting the CPSIA. However, I am very concerned that the CPSIA’s mandates for third party testing and labeling will have a dramatic and negative effect on small toymakers in the USA, Canada, and Europe, whose toy safety record has always been exemplary. Because of the fees charged by Third Party testing companies, many toymakers, especially makers of unique and beautiful wooden toys from Maine to Oregon will be driven out of business. Their cottage workshops simply do not make enough money to afford the $4,000 price tag per toy that Third Party testers are charging. Is this how we want America to be especially in these times of financial crises that we force all the small companies out of business while giving monopoly to Fisher-Price and Mattel? If this legislation passes it appears to me that there could be a special deal struck with the CPSC and Fisher-Price and Mattel since this would be the best thing for those 2 toy giants giving them the ultimate market share and forcing all the competitors out. If this happens, it will be a very sad day for Americans and especially American children who will suffer as a result of it. Please reconsider this legislation and force higher standards to the toy giants who clearly have violated the safety standards just for their own pocket book. How do you otherwise explain why European toy manufacturers such as Selecta and Haba who also have some of their toys made in China have never had these issues like the toys Fisher-Price and Mattel have had lately. Also the European Union has had strict safety standards in place for years and they don’t have problems like we have here in America. Please follow the lead that European Union has shown in protecting their consumers, it’s about time that we Americans get the same safety standards here.

On a quest for cute clothes and accessories for kids

I ran across this website that has super cute clothes and accessories for children and parents and highly recommend it. It’s called Skimbaco and it’s owned by a former runway model from Finland. Her name is Katja Presnal. I’m from Finland myself so I was glad to find a website that has brands that the typical retailer’s don’t because I’m always looking for cute clothes for our children and our family. The little ladies Mary Janes sold on Skimbaco have been featured on Oprah and Tom Cruise’s Suri daughter has been seen wearing them as well. Skimbaco is dedicated to children’s well being around the world and they don’t sell products that are made in sweatshops and/or by underage children. I’m so glad to have found a retailer that fits so perfectly with the whole concept of attachment parenting and the rights and well being of children around the world.

Extended breastfeeding – World Breastfeeding Celebration Week

There is nothing better in the world than having your 2-year-old give you a big hug and say “I love you” right before starting to nurse. The love that you are giving to your child from birth starts to show back once the baby matures and breastfeeding certainly helps with creating that special bond with your child. I remember when I had our first born and thought I was going to breastfeed him for a year because I thought that is what you are suppose to do. Our pediatrician, Dr. William Sears, was kind enough to explain the benefits of extended breastfeeding to me and open my eyes to the idea of child led weaning. It totally made sense to me. I was a working mom at the time as well so nursing after a long day at work really helped me to reconnect with my child and he looked forward to it also. 

 

Our daughter is 2 now and in the so called “terrible twos” phase. Breastfeeding really helps to calm her down if she gets upset and gives her a moment to wind down. This has been really helpful at restaurants and other public places. I use a nursing cover with her when we are out and about. I never used a cover with our son but after discovering a nursing cover and how convenient it is when you are breastfeeding in public, I highly recommend one. It’s not matter of having to hide your breastfeeding, to me it’s more like having my own privacy and our daughter likes it too because it shields her from the outside distractions and gives her a moment of peace as well. Now that she is older she asks for the cover if we are in public places and she wants to nurse. It’s so cute that she associates that with public places and knows that we don’t use one at home unless there are other kids around such as our older son’s friends who might have not been exposed to nursing at home.

 

I’m forever grateful to Dr. Sears for helping me to realize the benefits of extended breastfeeding. Now I wouldn’t have it any other way. Each child matures at different rates so the time they wean varies. Our son self weaned at 2 ½  years of age, right after he potty trained himself. He was a big boy now and didn’t need/want breastfeeding anymore. It was the most joyful yet sad day of my life because my baby had grown up to be a little man of his own who knew what he wanted. Now at 7 years of age, he is the same way. He is extremely confident and social and caring child. He always wants to make sure people around him are ok. He helps the children at school who might not be considered “popular” so that they don’t get left alone. He is also so kind, caring and affectionate with his little sister and he knows how important breastfeeding is for his little sister. I contribute all this to extended breastfeeding and the strong foundation he got in the early years of life.

 

I’m interested in seeing how long our daughter will breastfeed. At times she tells us that she is too big to breastfeed but wants it still at the same time. It’s so cute to see her journey growing up and how she is thinking about being a big girl all on her own. Until she self weans, I’m cherishing these moments of nursing. I even cherish the night time nursings because it’s our special time together. Her little arms are wrapped around my body and she is so content. After nursing, she goes right to sleep and I lay down next to her. I feel so content knowing that I’m helping her to grow up day and night and I help her sort through her feelings during these sometimes difficult times of being a 2-year old by breastfeeding.  

The fight regarding home birth and it’s safety continues

There was a great article in LA times regarding the issue of the American College of Obstetrics attacking the movie “The Business of Being Born” by Ricki Lake and they are trying to make home births illegal. This is outrageous and really shows what certain groups are about and what their true agenda is. Clearly American College of Obstetrics is not interested in the safety of the mother and the unborn child if they want to enforce the american hospital birth mentality with interventions such as induction, breaking of waters, giving pain medication etc which all have been proven to lead to unnecessary C-sections and is the opposite of how birthing is handled in Europe by midwifes. In Europe, home birthing is encouraged and practices commonly yet the newborn death rate is higher in America than in most European countries. Now what does that tell you? Do you believe the American College of Obstetrics who clearly have their own professional agenda in mind or do you believe that women were meant to give birth the natural way and should have the power to choose their own birthing style and the place?

Please read here for more details regarding this issue. There is an excellent book written about this by Jennifer Block called “Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care”. I highly recommend reading it. I really hope that American College of Obstetrics loses their fight to make home births illegal because if they succeed, it will mean that this country is going way backwards and it’s very unfortunately for the women of this country. I’ve given birth twice here in America and I can tell you that both times I had to fight to give birth naturally at a hospital. It was such a nightmare that I don’t wish that for anyone. If I had known better, I had delivered at home with a midwife. 

 

All natural toys and art/craft supplies

 

I’ve been on the hunt for all natural toys and drawing/crafting supplies for our kids ages 7 and 2. I found some really great products and websites that sell them. I’m all about supporting companies that don’t promote the “made in China” toys. With all the recalls and other safety issues with excessive lead etc found in toys made in China, I have changed gears to find safe but fun alternatives to the commercial toys. 

 

I found a website called Stubby Pencil Studio for great art supplies and cards that the kids can color and decorate themselves. All the pencils are eco-friendly and non-toxic. When our order came, our kids were so excites to color with the triangle colored pencils and the funky looking monkey pencils. Our son wanted to take them to school right away. I had also ordered crayon rocks and our 2 year-old was so excited to color with them. Be sure to supervise your little one with these if he/she is under 3 years old. The colors are numberswiki.com

beautiful and they fit her hands very well allowing her to color beautifully. I highly recommend this website for all your art supplies.

 

I wanted to make a hand-made birthday crown for our 2-year old. (She is turning 2 in just a few days). I was looking for 100% wool felt. Not the awful  polyester kind at the fabric stores. I found some great websites such as Nova Natural and Child’s Dream Come True. I ordered some naturally dyed felt from Child’s Dream and it was beautiful. Also the felt pieces from Nova Naturals were very nice and perfect to work with. I had also ordered all natural play dough from Child’s Dream and our kids love it. It’s so easy to work with and I really like it because there are no chemicals in it. There is no reason to buy the commercial Play Dough when you have healthy alternatives like this. I can highly recommend both websites for your crafting supplies as well as some natural and very beautiful toys.  

What Makes Finnish Kids So Smart?

Since I’m from Finland, this article is very interesting to me about the differences between the Finnish school and American school systems. Wall Street Journal had an excellent article on this issue. The main point to take away from this is that children should be allowed to be children and they shouldn’t be pushed so strongly. The freedom allows the kids to learn better and accelerate on their own. Here is the article on Wall Street Journal with a video.

Finland’s teens score extraordinarily high on an international test. American educators are trying to figure out why.

By ELLEN GAMERMANFebruary 29, 2008; Page W1

Helsinki, Finland

High-school students here rarely get more than a half-hour of homework a night. They have no school uniforms, no honor societies, no valedictorians, no tardy bells and no classes for the gifted. There is little standardized testing, few parents agonize over college and kids don’t start school until age 7.

Yet by one international measure, Finnish teenagers are among the smartest in the world. They earned some of the top scores by 15-year-old students who were tested in 57 countries. American teens finished among the world’s C students even as U.S. educators piled on more homework, standards and rules. Finnish youth, like their U.S. counterparts, also waste hours online. They dye their hair, love sarcasm and listen to rap and heavy metal. But by ninth grade they’re way ahead in math, science and reading — on track to keeping Finns among the world’s most productive workers. 

The Finns won attention with their performances in triennial tests sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group funded by 30 countries that monitors social and economic trends. In the most recent test, which focused on science, Finland’s students placed first in science and near the top in math and reading, according to results released late last year. An unofficial tally of Finland’s combined scores puts it in first place overall, says Andreas Schleicher, who directs the OECD’s test, known as the Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA. The U.S. placed in the middle of the pack in math and science; its reading scores were tossed because of a glitch. About 400,000 students around the world answered multiple-choice questions and essays on the test that measured critical thinking and the application of knowledge. A typical subject: Discuss the artistic value of graffiti.

The academic prowess of Finland’s students has lured educators from more than 50 countries in recent years to learn the country’s secret, including an official from the U.S. Department of Education. What they find is simple but not easy: well-trained teachers and responsible children. Early on, kids do a lot without adults hovering. And teachers create lessons to fit their students. “We don’t have oil or other riches. Knowledge is the thing Finnish people have,” says Hannele Frantsi, a school principal.

Visitors and teacher trainees can peek at how it’s done from a viewing balcony perched over a classroom at the Norssi School in Jyväskylä, a city in central Finland. What they see is a relaxed, back-to-basics approach. The school, which is a model campus, has no sports teams, marching bands or prom.

[photo]
Fanny Salo in class

Trailing 15-year-old Fanny Salo at Norssi gives a glimpse of the no-frills curriculum. Fanny is a bubbly ninth-grader who loves “Gossip Girl” books, the TV show “Desperate Housewives” and digging through the clothing racks at H&M stores with her friends.

Fanny earns straight A’s, and with no gifted classes she sometimes doodles in her journal while waiting for others to catch up. She often helps lagging classmates. “It’s fun to have time to relax a little in the middle of class,” Fanny says. Finnish educators believe they get better overall results by concentrating on weaker students rather than by pushing gifted students ahead of everyone else. The idea is that bright students can help average ones without harming their own progress.

At lunch, Fanny and her friends leave campus to buy salmiakki, a salty licorice. They return for physics, where class starts when everyone quiets down. Teachers and students address each other by first names. About the only classroom rules are no cellphones, no iPods and no hats.

Fanny’s more rebellious classmates dye their blond hair black or sport pink dreadlocks. Others wear tank tops and stilettos to look tough in the chilly climate. Tanning lotions are popular in one clique. Teens sift by style, including “fruittari,” or preppies; “hoppari,” or hip-hop, or the confounding “fruittari-hoppari,” which fuses both. Ask an obvious question and you may hear “KVG,” short for “Check it on Google, you idiot.” Heavy-metal fans listen to Nightwish, a Finnish band, and teens socialize online at irc-galleria.net.

The Norssi School is run like a teaching hospital, with about 800 teacher trainees each year. Graduate students work with kids while instructors evaluate from the sidelines. Teachers must hold master’s degrees, and the profession is highly competitive: More than 40 people may apply for a single job. Their salaries are similar to those of U.S. teachers, but they generally have more freedom.

Finnish teachers pick books and customize lessons as they shape students to national standards. “In most countries, education feels like a car factory. In Finland, the teachers are the entrepreneurs,” says Mr. Schleicher, of the Paris-based OECD, which began the international student test in 2000.

One explanation for the Finns’ success is their love of reading. Parents of newborns receive a government-paid gift pack that includes a picture book. Some libraries are attached to shopping malls, and a book bus travels to more remote neighborhoods like a Good Humor truck.

Finland shares its language with no other country, and even the most popular English-language books are translated here long after they are first published. Many children struggled to read the last Harry Potter book in English because they feared they would hear about the ending before it arrived in Finnish. Movies and TV shows have Finnish subtitles instead of dubbing. One college student says she became a fast reader as a child because she was hooked on the 1990s show “Beverly Hills, 90210.”

In November, a U.S. delegation visited, hoping to learn how Scandinavian educators used technology. Officials from the Education Department, the National Education Association and the American Association of School Librarians saw Finnish teachers with chalkboards instead of whiteboards, and lessons shown on overhead projectors instead of PowerPoint. Keith Krueger was less impressed by the technology than by the good teaching he saw. “You kind of wonder how could our country get to that?” says Mr. Krueger, CEO of the Consortium for School Networking, an association of school technology officers that organized the trip.

Finnish high-school senior Elina Lamponen saw the differences firsthand. She spent a year at Colon High School in Colon, Mich., where strict rules didn’t translate into tougher lessons or dedicated students, Ms. Lamponen says. She would ask students whether they did their homework. They would reply: “‘Nah. So what’d you do last night?’” she recalls. History tests were often multiple choice. The rare essay question, she says, allowed very little space in which to write. In-class projects were largely “glue this to the poster for an hour,” she says. Her Finnish high school forced Ms. Lamponen, a spiky-haired 19-year-old, to repeat the year when she returned.

Lloyd Kirby, superintendent of Colon Community Schools in southern Michigan, says foreign students are told to ask for extra work if they find classes too easy. He says he is trying to make his schools more rigorous by asking parents to demand more from their children.

Despite the apparent simplicity of Finnish education, it would be tough to replicate in the U.S. With a largely homogeneous population, teachers have few students who don’t speak Finnish. In the U.S., about 8% of students are learning English, according to the Education Department. There are fewer disparities in education and income levels among Finns. Finland separates students for the last three years of high school based on grades; 53% go to high school and the rest enter vocational school. (All 15-year-old students took the PISA test.) Finland has a high-school dropout rate of about 4% — or 10% at vocational schools — compared with roughly 25% in the U.S., according to their respective education departments.

Another difference is financial. Each school year, the U.S. spends an average of $8,700 per student, while the Finns spend $7,500. Finland’s high-tax government provides roughly equal per-pupil funding, unlike the disparities between Beverly Hills public schools, for example, and schools in poorer districts. The gap between Finland’s best- and worst-performing schools was the smallest of any country in the PISA testing. The U.S. ranks about average.

Finnish students have little angstata – or teen angst – about getting into the best university, and no worries about paying for it. College is free. There is competition for college based on academic specialties — medical school, for instance. But even the best universities don’t have the elite status of a Harvard.

Taking away the competition of getting into the “right schools” allows Finnish children to enjoy a less-pressured childhood. While many U.S. parents worry about enrolling their toddlers in academically oriented preschools, the Finns don’t begin school until age 7, a year later than most U.S. first-graders.

Once school starts, the Finns are more self-reliant. While some U.S. parents fuss over accompanying their children to and from school, and arrange every play date and outing, young Finns do much more on their own. At the Ymmersta School in a nearby Helsinki suburb, some first-grade students trudge to school through a stand of evergreens in near darkness. At lunch, they pick out their own meals, which all schools give free, and carry the trays to lunch tables. There is no Internet filter in the school library. They can walk in their socks during class, but at home even the very young are expected to lace up their own skates or put on their own skis.

The Finns enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world, but they, too, worry about falling behind in the shifting global economy. They rely on electronics and telecommunications companies, such as Finnish cellphone giant Nokia, along with forest-products and mining industries for jobs. Some educators say Finland needs to fast-track its brightest students the way the U.S. does, with gifted programs aimed at producing more go-getters. Parents also are getting pushier about special attention for their children, says Tapio Erma, principal of the suburban Olari School. “We are more and more aware of American-style parents,” he says.

Mr. Erma’s school is a showcase campus. Last summer, at a conference in Peru, he spoke about adopting Finnish teaching methods. During a recent afternoon in one of his school’s advanced math courses, a high-school boy fell asleep at his desk. The teacher didn’t disturb him, instead calling on others. While napping in class isn’t condoned, Mr. Erma says, “We just have to accept the fact that they’re kids and they’re learning how to live.” 

 

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